All eyes on global vaccine rollout

Health Watch

ENSURING the rapid and equitable rollout of the Covid-19 vaccines globally is essential for saving lives and stabilising health systems, an official says.
World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made this known in his weekly media briefing on Monday.
Dr Ghebreyesus said the vaccines were essential for saving livelihoods and stabilising economies.
“Fully funding Covax represents the greatest possible stimulus and is a rounding error compared with the trillions of dollars that have been mobilised in G7 countries to support their economies,” he said in a statement.
“I am pleased that the G7, under the United Kingdom’s presidency, is meeting this Friday (tomorrow) to discuss vaccine equity, and I encourage all groups to sign the WHO’s declaration.
“We should continue to build the demand for vaccines by ensuring people have the right information.
“A year ago, I said that we were not only fighting a pandemic, we were fighting an infodemic.
“In the past year, we have seen the real harm that can be caused when people are overwhelmed by information, misinformation and disinformation. The answer is not just to fight misinformation and delete false or misleading statements.
“It’s to listen to the real concerns and questions people have, and to answer those questions with good information.
“That’s part of the reason the WHO holds these regular media briefings, publishes guidance, communicates on its social media channels and website, holds seminars with different community and professional groups and more.”
Dr Ghebreyesus said the WHO had given emergency use listing to two versions of the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine, giving the green light for these vaccines to be rolled out globally through Covax.
“One of the vaccines is produced by SKBio in the Republic of Korea and the other is produced by the Serum Institute of India,” he said.
“Although both companies are producing the same vaccine, because they are made in different production plants, they required separate reviews and approvals.
“The WHO emergency use listing assesses and assures the quality, safety and efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines, and is a prerequisite for vaccines to be distributed by Covax.
“This listing was completed in under four weeks from the time the WHO received the full dossiers from the manufacturers.
“In addition to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, these are now the second and third vaccines to receive emergency use listing.
“We now have all the pieces in place for the rapid distribution of vaccines.
“But we still need to scale-up production, and we continue to call for vaccine developers to submit their dossiers to the WHO for review at the same time as they submit them to regulators in high-income countries.”